Google Tests Feature That Lets Media Companies, Marketers Publish Directly to Search Results

Google is experimenting with a new feature that allows marketers, media companies, politicians, and other organizations to publish content directly to Google and instantly appear in search results.

The search giant said it began testing the feature in January and has since opened it to a range of small businesses, media companies, and political candidates.

Fox News has worked with Google to post content related to political debates, for example, while published posts related to the Oscars in February. HBO published “news” articles about fictitious characters this week in its popular show “Silicon Valley” to promote the season 3 premiere.
A content carousel for HBO’s Silicon Valley on a Google search results page ENLARGE
A content carousel for HBO’s Silicon Valley on a Google search results page Photo: Google for The Wall Street Journal

Google has built a Web-based interface through which posts can be formatted and uploaded directly to its systems. The seats can be up to 14,400 characters, including links and ten images or videos. The pages can also be shared via Twitter, Facebook, or email.

A post by “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” hosted by Google
A Google spokeswoman said that Google hosts each post on a dedicated page and appears in a carousel in results pages for searches related to their authors for up to a week. After seven days, the posts remain live but won’t be surfaced in search results. Rather, they can be accessed via a link.

“We’re continuing to experiment with the look and feel of this feature, including exploring other potential use cases,” according to a statement from Google. A Google spokeswoman said the feature doesn’t yet have an official name.

On Thursday morning, searches for “Jimmy Kimmel” returned a carousel featuring multiple posts created by the show’s producers, for example. One of those posts, published Monday, featured a YouTube video clip of Mr. Kimmel naming babies live on his show.

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Cricket-focused sports site Cricbuzz appeared to be extremely active on the feature, posting it every 10 minutes on Thursday morning.
A Cricbuzz content carousel on a Google search results page ENLARGE
A Cricbuzz content carousel on a Google search results page Photo: Google for The Wall Street Journal

The Google spokeswoman said the experimental feature is separate from Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages program, aiming to speed up online content by streamlining the code that powers Web pages.

With the AMP program, Google also “caches” pages or saves copies of them on its systems to deliver them more quickly to users. However, However, AMP doesn’t host content directly whereas; Google’s new search feature does.

Google’s tests of the new posting tool come when media companies, marketers, and organizations of all types are increasingly distributing content by publishing directly to major online platforms instead of driving users back to their websites and properties.

For example, Facebook has an Instant Articles feature, which lets anyone host their content directly on the social network, provided they adhere to its content policies. Facebook also overhauled its “Notes” feature in September 2015, which—similarly to Google’s new feature—offers a Web interface through which users can publish their content directly to the social network.

Apple also unveiled a Web-based publishing tool that allows users to arrange and publish content directly to its Apple News application.

The Google spokeswoman emphasized that the new tool remains experimental and wouldn’t provide details on whether or when it may be opened to more authors. She said that Google is currently testing it with various types of partners but wouldn’t disclose exactly how many.

A Web page promoting the feature currently describes it as invite-only and encourages interested parties to join a waitlist.